Smashed Like a Strawberry Box
August 1, 2013 11:15 AM Subscribe
Seventy years ago today
, in the midst of World War II, St. Louis citizens and dignitaries gathered at Lambert Airport to watch a VIP demonstration flight of the CG-4A
glider, which had recently entered service. Aboard the glider
were William Becker
, the Mayor of St. Louis, several other high-ranking city officials, the founder and the vice-president of Robertson Aircraft
(a St. Louis company producing the glider for the war effort), as well as two pilots. Immediately after being released by the tow aircraft, the right wing of the glider sheared off, sending the glider plummeting to the ground
and killing all ten aboard.
The news article in the first link is fascinating not only because of the report of the crash, but because of the context in which it occurred: the evacuation of Berlin, the death of Chinese president Lin Sen, many stories of wartime life, and the Superman comic of the day. (And, on the front page of the paper that day, a story about a racially-charged riot in New York City).
The particular glider in the crash was found to have had a strut made of metal that was too thin to bear the load. Robertson Aircraft Corporation was one of several that constructed that type of glider nationwide (it had been designed by Waco Aircraft Company
). The glider had already been used by the RAF, and at the time of the crash was in use in the invasion of Sicily. It would go on to play a significant role in the D-Day landings the following year.